With this month spilling out the very first super-villains movie, Suicide Squad, along with the bleak Batman tale The Killing Joke which explores the madness of The Joker, I thought it would be interesting to do something a little different. I thought to myself: what can I do to celebrate such a special occasion? Then the thought hit me, whilst listening to “The Master Vainglorious”, why don’t I establish the Month of Villains and create some articles based around villains and help to explore why we enjoy them so much. So join me on this journey as we delve into the opposite end of the spectrum. Concluding this great occasion let us countdown the Top 6 Villain Stories.
6. Frieza – Frieza Saga
Though this is technically cheating because I can’t pick a single story for Frieza because he is a manga/anime character, but hey-ho. So I chose “The Frieza Saga”. Frieza has the least complex story on this list but it has always had me invested since I was a kid. He’s a typical evil tyrant that inflicts pain onto others without hesitation or mercy. But deep down his character is filled with fear, and that fear is encountering a greater power than his own which ultimately leads to his reasoning in killing off the Saiyans.
His quest to locate the Dragonballs and wish for immortality showcased further his inner insecurity and desire for further power. I like how he constantly gets challenged by the Z-Fighters and further pushed to the limit as his title of “Strongest Being in the Universe” got tested. Ultimately his story is his slow, but sure, decent into madness as he becomes frustrated by Goku and his power, which exceeds his own.
Needless to say his defeat has gone down in history as one of the greatest, and most gruesome, villain defeats of all time and it’s even more poetic because he caused it through his desire to not quit and accept defeat. I really love the fact that he got to return, and was promised to be even more powerful, but sadly this was a wasted opportunity and his wonderful character was mistreated by having him so easily defeated by new character Trunks. I could write articles on this touching subject which has left me both confused and angered since I was a child. But again, it was a well designed death through its imagery. Plus you have to feel sorry for someone that has been cut in half as many times as Frieza.
5. Loki – Avengers Assemble
For Loki, it was a no brainer, I chose Avengers Assemble. Loki’s character is a fascinating one, and one that sits at the heart of the MCU because of his charm, wittiness, intelligence and extreme hatred for his brother Thor. He certainly made the perfect match for the Avengers during their first big screen assemble. What was great about his story in Assemble was his descent from being King of Asgard in Thor to becoming a servant of Thanos. Throughout the narrative you could tell he was trying to prove himself worthy of something greater, and this was pushed by his anger towards those that stole his crown, thus feeling betrayed as he was cast out into the shadows.
It’s fair to say that his character completely changed and in the time between his first and second appearance Loki had grown as a villain and become more ruthless and sinister, throwing away being the simple mischievous manipulator to now being a full-on threat with ambitions of chaos and the longing to rule through pure tyranny. One of his greatest segments comes with his conversation with Black Widow as he threatens her with pure evil intent and Tom Hiddleston‘s performance is fierce, taking Loki’s role to a truly dark place which ultimately showcased he wasn’t to be trifled with. That and his delight in apparently killing Agent Coulson before sending Thor to his apparent doom. But, above all else, it’s also great to see Loki joke around with his witty one-liners, “If it’s all the same with you, I’ll have that drink now.”
4. Darth Vader – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
For Darth Vader it was hard to chose a story, being torn between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. I went with the former. Despite people’s hatred of the prequel trilogy I do find them more enjoyable because of their different story styles and explosive action sequences. Despite my dislike of Hayden Christensen‘s casting, I couldn’t fault his acting when it came to Anakin Skywalker’s decent into the Dark Side as he really nailed the menace of his darkened persona whilst also showcasing the tragedy of this transformation.
I think this is a great origin story for a villain and it really gave Vader a new perspective as he didn’t turn because he was simply seduced by the obsession of power but because he feared for the loss of his wife, Padme Amidala. This led to The Emperor being the most diabolical creature ever in the history of filmmaking through him slowly manipulating Anakin, thus turning the young Clone Wars hero into a puppet to secure his plans for universal control.
What made Vader’s turning even more tragic was the fact he didn’t get what he wanted and instead was pushed too far into darkness as his fears grew too strong for him to control and ultimately broke Padme’s heart. All of his actions meant nothing in the end. Their was no reward, only suffering and pain from the countless deaths he caused, leaving him without the love of his life, his children, and the order of the universe left unbalanced for The Emperor to do as he pleased. It was great to finally see the awesome lightsaber duel between Vader and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, which tragically showcased how Vader became entombed within his metal armour.
3. The Master – The End of Time
The Master is such a great character, and my favourite villain of all times, but for his best story it was sort of hard to choose, what with his brilliant opening serial “Terror of the Autons”, his terrifying return in “The Deadly Assassin”, the Series 3 finale, or his most recent entry for Big Finish Productions, “The Two Masters”. But in the end I decided to choose his swan-song, “The End of Time”.
I say this is his swan-song because despite his apparent return in Series 8 I actually don’t consider The Mistress as The Master. I’m sorry I just don’t, but that’s a rant for another time. “The End of Time” is an emotional journey for both The Tenth Doctor and The Master because it’s both their departure stories. What I love most about this narrative is how much of their friendship we get to see, it is really brought to the table and in their last hour they showcase just how much they hate one another, how much they admire one another and above all how far they have come since their days at the Academy. You can tell it has been a long road that has left both of their lives in ruin and both of them are at their lowest trying to finally bring a conclusion to their journey.
Whilst The Tenth Doctor deals with his prophecy of dying, The Master deals with his failed resurrection as he begins to slowly loose his life-force. From his physical appearance you can see his status is no more, with him declaring himself “King of the Wasteland”. What’s more, The Master finally discovers the meaning behind his madness and this is where the tragedy lies. All of his life he was led to believe that the drumbeat in his head was all in his head but becomes delighted when The Tenth Doctor finally hears it. In a last attempt to become “Master of All” The Master causes everyone to become him, thus creating The Master Race.
This leads to the elaborate plans of President Rassilon using The Master as a beacon to bring Gallifrey back into reality and escaping The Last Great Time War, at the price of destroying time itself. The Master is saddened to learn that he had been driven mad since a child all for the selfish cause of Rassilon, further saddened by the fact Rassilon won’t allow him to join The Time Lords as they ascend beyond conscious thought. There is a very special moment where The Tenth Doctor choses not to kill The Master and ops to find another means of defeating Rassilon. This in turn brings about The Master’s apparent demise as he finally does the right thing through repaying his old friend’s kindness and sacrifices himself to send Rassilon back into hell. It is a very poetic scene that leaves me both sad and happy whenever I watch it, thus being the perfect ending to this deranged mad man.
2. The Joker – The Killing Joke
For the Clown Prince of Crime I choose the most obvious chose, Batman: The Killing Joke, though I was close to picking Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker but having recently seen the latest DC animated movie it was fair to say that this narrative deserved a place on this list, hands down.
This narrative shows The Joker at his darkest as he attempts to prove that anyone can be sent over the edge, like himself, through “one bad day”. The victim in this scheme is Commissioner Gordon. The things he has to endure is beyond imagining through watching his daughter, Barbara Gordon, being shot and paralysed, to then being taken to The Joker’s lair where he is stripped of his dignity and forced to go through a twisted carnival ride where his perception on life is tested.
On top of this, like with “The End of Time”, we’re given a study into the origins and understand what made The Joker become The Joker. It’s another tragic backstory in which we see all of the happiness within his life, i.e. his beautiful wife and expected child, taken away from him in an unexpected, heart-breaking fashion before being dragged into a criminal operation that leaves him at the mercy of Batman, resulting in his accidental fall into chemicals and thus creates The Joker as he releases his insane laughter after staring into his new reflection.
What makes this narrative even more intense is The Joker’s desperation to showcase that anyone can become insane whilst Batman tries to reaffirm it is only him. Their connection has never been closer than The Killing Joke as Batman attempts on several occasions to reach out to his arch-nemesis and actually help him before it is too late, knowing full well their battle can only end in one of their deaths at the hands of the other. The Joker comes to terms with the fact that Batman had to have suffered from a “bad day” like himself and wants him to finally admit he is as insane as he is. The conclusion of this narrative is both shocking and satisfying as the two of them come face to face and actually have a moment of understanding one another.
1. Sosuke Aizen – Arrancar Arc
Again like with Frieza I can’t pick an individual story for Sosuke Aizen so I went with “The Arrancar Arc”. Though the arc doesn’t strictly revolve around just Aizen but he is the main antagonist. It is clever how his schemes evolve as the narrative progresses, with him appearing at first as one of the heroes in the previous arc before being thought murdered, only to later be revealed as the master-mind behind all the chaos with the Seireitei. Aizen is always deceitful and you never know what his true goals are until he wants you to know them.
The ongoing arc revolves around his quest to create the Oken, a special key that will grant him access to the dimension within the Soul Society in which The Soul King lives, to which he can presumably murder them. In the process Aizen engineers a war through creating an army of Arrancars, specially generated Hollows that have gained the powers of Soul Reapers. His elite force, The Espadas, led the battle against the 13 Court Guard Squads which ultimately ends in The Espadas defeat, or deaths, to which Aizen doesn’t care about. They were a tool to help progress Aizen’s true goals of achieving his own personal evolution through the Hogyoku, thus turning himself into a god. Through The Espada he weakens his enemy, manipulating both sides to do exactly what he wanted in the ongoing battles.
Everything happens to Aizen’s design and it is great to witness his long explanations as to how events have occurred exactly to his predictions, showcasing how manipulative and powerful he is. One scene in particular is where he is confronted by Head Captain Yamamoto and his fellow Soul Reaper Captains but Aizen is unfazed and knows exactly what the Head Captain’s plans are. As the arc goes on you realise how cruel, and calculative Aizen is and that everyone is a pawn to him in his sick, twisted game, to which he enjoyed using character’s emotions and loyalties to his own advantage, making it easier for him to set about his plans. Another element that later occurs is Gin Ichimaru’s revealing his hatred toward Aizen and his goal of wanting him dead, thereby aiding Aizen the whole time to get close to him, but Aizen reveals he knew this and played along to see what he would do. In the end Gin is unfortunately slain to Aizen’s power.
The end result of this arc is finally seeing Aizen fail at the hands of Ichigo Kurosaki as he manages to overpower him with superior spiritual energy. This is the first time we see Aizen without confidence as he is no longer in control of the actions around him, forced further by his out of control arrogance due to his multiple evolutions. This final battle actually sends him over the edge with rage as he becomes angered by the factors of being outweighed, becoming confused by Ichigo’s abilities surpassing his own. Despite his eventual defeat Aizen doesn’t lose face and returns to his confident self during his trial, as he intimidates Central 46 despite being restrained and sensed to imprisonment.
And that is the end of the Month of Villains. I hope you have enjoyed my articles talking about some of my personal favourite villains, their battles with their arch-nemesis and of course their best stories. Please feel free to continue the discussion by sharing your favourite villain stories either in the comment section below or on our Twitter page.